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Whittlesey Ancestors - The Anker family (Part 3)

By Patricia Cleverley, Stuart Cook, Alan D. Craxford and Daniel Hewitt


Other articles within the website which relate to particular aspects of this story are noted within square brackets in the text. Links to these articles can be found in the table towards the bottom of column 2

This article is a continuation of "The origins of the Anker family" [Article A.] which traced the lineage back to 17th century Cambridgeshire and followed the footsteps of Abraham Anker who was born in 1819, the same year that his father died in "Whittlesey Ancestors - The Anker family (Part 1)" [Article B.]. Abraham married local girl, Mary Wilkins with whom he ultimately had nine children. Abraham worked the land as an agricultural labourer. The family's fortunes plumbed the depths in the 1850s when they were forced to enter the Whittlesey Union Workhouse. During the 1860s their circumstances were improving, Abraham was back at work and the family had moved into their own accommodation. This installment will concentrate on their last born son, David.

The family life of David Anker and Harriet Flanders

District Map
Town Map

Maps of the area around Whittlesey and Whittlesey town showing places of interest (1)

David Anker was born on April 5th 1865 in Whittlesey, the sixth son and last born child of Abraham Anker and Mary Wilkins. He was almost eight years younger than his next brother, George, and already five of his siblings had moved away to start families of their own. Abraham had established the family home in a cottage in Bullards Town End on an area of open fenland called Lattersey Field which lay to the south east of the town adjacent to the Ely and Peterborough railway line. (The area is now a Local Nature Reserve - ED). During this time, his father continued to work as an agricultural labourer but by the end of the decade he had acquired a smallholding of 19 acres which he farmed for himself.

Lattersey Field remained David's home during his childhood and as a teenager he joined his father working on the land. His brother George moved away and married Elizabeth Hallam in Carlton, Nottinghamshire in December 1878 (see "Whittlesey Ancestors - The Anker family (Part 2)" [Article C.]. The 1881 census shows David the last remaining child in the family home. Abraham died on November 6th 1886 in Whittlesey of heart disease. After his demise, Mary moved into a small dwelling on Arnold's Lane, off Delph Street in the town, living alone on her pension until her own death in 1898.

Sometime during the 1880s David began courting a girl named Harriet Flanders who was about the same age as him. Harriet was the daughter of William Flanders and Mary Colby and had been born in Huntingdon in 1865. William and Mary, both from the village of Alconbury, were married in 1854 and had sons Edward in 1856 (who died aged 6 years) and John in 1860 and another daughter, Elizabeth, in 1864. Entries in some records do cause some confusion as Mary's maiden name was entered as Colbert. William was originally a carman - the driver of a horse drawn delivery vehicle. By 1881 he had become a porter for a grocery business. At the same time the family were housed in a property immediately behind the Fountain Hotel in the High Street, Huntingdon. This was a large Georgian coaching inn which finally closed for business in 1912.

David and Harriet were clearly together by 1888 (he reported in their 1911 census return that they had been married for 23 years) but to date no evidence of the publishing of banns or the entry of proceedings in either parish records or marriage indexes for the couple has been found. Harriet was pregnant towards the end of 1887, a pregnancy which proved to be twins. The babies were born on April 24th 1888 and were named David Oliver and Charles William. The former was never well and succumbed on May 9th 1888, the cause of death being registered as debility and aphthae (mouth ulcers). Within two years the couple were rewarded with a daughter, they named Gertrude. At the time of the census taken on April 5th 1891, the young family were living in Eastgate, Whittlesey. David had called himself a cow keeper and milkman. They were also supplementing their income by providing accommodation for two boarders: 25 year old groom and coachman Thomas Hussey and 24 year old grocer's assistant Arthur Sismy.


Milk boys

The family continued to expand over the next decade or so adding three more sons before the turn of the century and one after it whilst they remained in Eastgate. David declared himself a dairyman and farmer and in 1901 his eldest son Charles was employed as a milk boy. On his 1911 census return David gave the family's address as Gossett Farm, where he was the farmer, on Eastrea Road outside of Whittlesey. This probably corresponds to the smallholding now called Gothic Farm. A 1916 Directory (2) places David in Bassenhally Field.

Harriet died on March 30th 1917 by which time only youngest son Oliver David was still at home. The cause of her death was given as "acute delirious mania" (a term used to describe severe physical and psychological symptoms often associated with acute infections such as typhoid or poisoning (4)). She was buried in Whittlesey Cemetery. David lived for another 16 years and was ultimately commemorated on the same headstone.

Charles William Anker (1888 - 1959)

Charles A

Charles Anker

Surviving twin Charles grew up in the family home in Eastgate. As he approached his teenage years he helped out as a milk boy. After the turn of the century he became attracted to Victoria Day, whose family lived in Underwoods to the south west of the turn off Blackbush Drove. Victoria, who was born on November 9th 1887 in Ardley End Essex, was the daughter of farm foreman John Day and Susan Squires. The couple were originally from the village of Ugley near Saffron Walden but had moved to Cambridgeshire during the 1890s.

Charles and Victoria were married at St. Mary's Church on August 3rd 1908. They then set up home in London Street where their first son, Kenneth Roland, was born on June 2nd 1909. By this time Charles was working as a fishmonger. Soon afterwards they moved to Huntingdon where, in 1911, they initially found accommodation at the Fountain Hotel (the same building close by which his maternal grandparents had lived thirty years before). Charles found employment at the hotel as a "bus driver and keeper of the fountain tap" - which probably refers to his working as the bar tender of the hotel's Tap Room. Their daughter, Constance Hilda, was born in the town on July 14th 1912. One year later on July 2nd 1913, second son Edward was born. Shortly after this Charles moved his young family to the Longthorpe district of Peterborough where their third son, David John Anker was born on March 15th 1916.

London StDistrict Map

London Street, Whittlesey


Fountain Hotel, Huntingdon (about 1910)

Charles enlisted with the Armed Forces during the first World War and became Private 117168 of the Machine Gun Corps. There are no available records to show where he served overseas but it would have been after the end of 1915. The Corps was formed in October of that year to provide more effective use of machine guns on the Western Front (5). Charles was demobilised on March 1st 1919 and placed in the Class Z Reserve which meant that he could be recalled to the service if hostilities resumed (6). The reserve was abolished on March 31st 1920. He was awarded the Victory and the British War medals.

The couple

Charles and Victoria

During the next decade Charles moved the family to Nottingham. By 1931 they were living in Manton Crescent, a stone's throw away from the entrance to the campus of Nottingham University, a house which was to remain their home for more than thirty years. Charles became manager of a fishmonger's stall in the Nottingham Central Market which also sold game. On October 20th 1937 his firm had a brush with the law when his salesman, Gerald Schofield was found to have a number of rabbits on display which were considered unfit for human consumption. The case was dismissed at the Nottingham Summons Court but with £ 1 costs.(7). Charles and Victoria remained at Manton Crescent at the beginning of the second World War. They had daughter Constance living with them. She was working as a shorthand typist.

In September 1940, Constance was employed as a typist for the War Office (8). After the end of the war, she was appointed to the post of higher clerical officer in the civil service. At the end of the decade she spent a few weeks in South Africa, embarking in London on S.S. City of Hong Kong on December 29th 1949. She returned on RMS Llangibby Castle, arriving back in Southampton on February 11th 1950.

Charles died on October 5th 1959 at home in Manton Crescent. Constance organised his cremation which was carried out at Wilford Hill Crematorium, West Bridgford Nottingham three days later. His ashes were scattered in the Garden of Rest. Sometime after her husband's death, Victoria moved with Constance just over a mile north to 44 Ashchurch Drive which stands close to the western edge of Wollaton Park. She lived for another fourteen years and died at the age of 85 years on October 9th 1973. Her cremation was also carried out at Wilford Hill Crematorium and her ashes joined his in the Garden of Rest.

Constance never married. She continued to live in Ashchurch Drive, Nottingham until her death on February 23rd 1990. In her will published on April 6th the same year she left a bequest of £ 1000 to Grangewood Methodist Church, Wollaton. The residuum was split nine ways between her brother David John, her nephews and sisters in law.

Kenneth Roland Anker

First born son moved with his parents to Nottingham where he joined the police force as a constable. In the spring of 1939 he married Constance Furnish, the 24 year old daughter of joiner John William Furnish and his wife Christina Rawlinson. They made their home in Glamis Road in the Sherwood district of Nottingham, about 5 miles to the north east of Manton Crescent. Kenneth was also a Regular Army Reservist with the Grenadier Battalion. They had two sons: Victor Kenneth (born in 1940) and Anthony Roger (1941).

Early in the war he was posted for officer training and on December 12th 1942 he was promoted from cadet to 2nd Lieutenant (9). Kenneth's marriage did not survive for long after the war and they drifted apart. Constance married again in the early months of 1951 to Kenneth Forbes in the Sleaford area of Lincolnshire. In the spring of the same year Kenneth married Barbara Harrison. They made their home in Woodhouse Road, Mansfield Nottinghamshire. Kenneth died at the beginning of 1964 and was cremated at the Mansfield and District Crematorium in the Berryhill district to the south of the town. Barbara lived on in Mansfield until the spring of 2002.

Edward Anker


Edward Anker

Edward followed his parents from Huntingdon to Nottingham. His own family life followed a pattern very similar to his older brother. In the spring of 1936 he married 22 year old Nora May Thornton. They had two daughters: Christine (born in 1936) and Maureen (1939). The 1939 Register records them living at 18 Fircroft Avenue in the city which is about 4½ miles north of Charles and Victoria's house in Manton Crescent and 3 miles due west of his brother Kenneth. Edward was listed as a heavy manual gun fitter. Their marriage was not to last and before the end of the war they had separated. Nora was to marry again quite quickly to the recently widowed Frederick Cranwell in 1945.

Edward moved north west to Cheshire where he married Glenys Derbyshire at the end of 1945. She was born in 1917 in Wales and had trained as a nurse. They had two sons: David (born 1953) and John (1958). They made their home in Heath Lane Little Sutton which is a suberb of Ellesmere Port. He became a draughtsman and became known as Edward William Anker. In 1967 he stood as candidate for the Conservative party in a by-election for the Victoria ward for the Ellesmere Borough Council (10). Edward died on December 3rd 1977. His funeral by cremation took place at the Chester Crematorium on December 7th 1977. His ashes were scattered in the Garden of Remembrance. In his will which he had written on July 21st 1952 and which was proved on February 16th 1978, he left all of his property to his wife Glenys who he had also appointed his Executrix.

David John Anker

Although registered as David John at birth, he became known in later life as John David Anker. Before the outbreak of the second World War he was living in Junction Road in the St Matthews District of Leicester, working as a shoe designer. In 1938 he enlisted with the Royal Artillery as gunner 1552143. He received a commission as 2nd Lieutenant under Paragraph 390 (xvii) of Kings Regulations on December 27th 1940. He married Eileen Millicent Gamble in Blaby, Leicestershire in 1940. Eileen was born on July 14th 1917, delivered by midwife Jemima Dawkins at 16 Glenfield Road in the west end of the town (the locale is described in [Article D.]). She was the illegitimate daughter of Annie May Gamble, a hosiery mender, who was temporarily living at 26 Noble Street. Annie May had been living with her mother Ellen and two brothers in Belper Street in the St Margaret's District for many years (indeed she was still there by the time of the 1939 Register). Her father Thomas Gamble had died in 1897. After the war, David John and Eileen had three children: a son Michael (born in 1946) and daughters Christine (1950) and Joan (1957). In the 1980s the family moved to Ravenstone, a small village to the south west of Coalville, Leicestershire. John died there on November 24th 1988. Eileen lived on until April 2000.

Gertrude Anker (1890 - 1915)


Gertrude Anker

Only daughter Gertrude was born in the autumn of 1890. As a teenager she helped around the farm, particularly in the dairy. In her early 20s, she met Walter Eason, who was born on January 19th 1891 the son of George Eason and Sarah Ann Parker, a brickyard labourer. He was the eighth of eleven children (eight boys and three girls). In his teens he followed his father and two of his brothers as a labourer in a brickworks. At the time of the census of 1901 the Eason family had been living in Low Cross, Whittlesey, next door neighbours to Gertrude's second cousin Levi Anker and his family. By 1911, George Eason had moved the family a couple of hundred yards south into Church Street.

Gertrude and Walter were married on June 3rd 1914. They made their home in Eastrea. Within a few months Gertrude was expecting her first child. It appears that her pregnancy was not straightforward. She was delivered of a son they named Walter David on July 25th 1915. She never recovered from the confinement and her condition deteriorated over the next four weeks. She died at home with her husband by her side on August 19th 1915. The certified cause of death was given as "Recent confinement and Exophthalmic Goitre" (Grave's Disease). She was interred a few days later. It is not known how long she had been suffering from this condition which is due to a severely overactive thyroid gland. It causes marked swelling of the neck and a characteristic bulging of the eyes. In a review paper of the condition as it was known in 1911 (11), Clifford White reports that the effects of Grave's Disease and pregnancy together are poorly understood. Fertility is often reduced. When it does occur there is a much increased risk of the severe complication of eclampsia (12).


Kings Dyke

Walter married again in 1920 in Sheffield. His new wife was 25 year old Dora Priest, the daughter of joiner Frank Priest and his wife Jane Ward. Their first born son, Arthur was born in Sheffield prior to their move back to Whittlesey. They had a daughter, Margaret, and another son, Kenneth. At the outbreak of the second World War Walter continued to be a heavy manual labourer at a brick works. They were living at 11 King's Dyke, a small settlement to the west of the town. Dora passed away shortly after the end of hostilities in the winter of 1947. Walter subsequently moved back to Sheffield where he lived for another 17 years. He died in the Royal Hospital, Sheffield on May 24th 1964.

Walter David Eason

Walter David followed the Eason pattern of work into the brickyard as soon as he was old enough. In the summer of 1939, Walter married 22 year old Doris Bedford. They made their home in Eastrea. Doris was the daughter of second cousins George William Bedford and Frances Annie Bedford. Frances had two brothers: Wilfred who was older and Ernest, younger. Some confusion however surrounds the family of Frances Annie. Although she had left the family home to get married a few weeks prior to the date of the census return of 1911 leaving her parents at home only with younger son Ernest, her father had declared that he had had nine children of which seven had died leaving only two alive. Despite exhaustive searches of the records only five births (and three deaths) have so far been confirmed to the couple.

After the war, Walter and Doris moved to Suffolk where he became a grocer. At the beginning of July 1964, he learned that he had been left just over £ 2000 in his father's will. He died in the winter of 1983, his death being registered in the Newmarket area. Doris lived on in the same county until she died in January 2005.

NOTE: George Eason, Walter's older brother, married Alice German in 1899. Alice was the niece of the older (1846 - 1878) of the two Martha German girls described in the section "The Strange Case of Joseph German" in [Article B.]. In 1913, Samuel Eason, Walter's younger brother, married Rhoda Ann Bedford - Dora Bedford's father George William's sister.

Percival Joseph Anker (1892 - 1918)

Dorothy Clark

Dorothy Clark

Percival Anker

Percival Anker

Percival was born on August 28th 1892, barely two years after his sister Gertrude. His is the central portrait in the banner at the head of this page. Growing up on the farm, by the time he reached 20 years of age he was looking after and working with the horses. In 1913 Percival decided to emigrate and moved to Canada, presumably to pursue a career in farming there, and married a girl who was originally from Berkshire. He enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, was awarded the Military Medal and died in action only six weeks before the end of the first World War. He is commemorated on the Whittlesey War Memorial. An account of his life can be found in "Percival Joseph Anker, MM" [Article E.].

Albert George Anker (1894 - 1919)


Albert in uniform

Next son Albert was born on January 28th 1894. As a teenager he joined his older brother Percival by working on his father's farm. At the outbreak of the first World War he followed the example of so many young men and enlisted for the Armed Forces (13). He signed this attestation for a four year period on September 5th 1914 and initially became private 2444 of the 1st Battalion, the Cambridgeshire Regiment. This was part of the East Midland Brigade. He was not a tall man, measuring 5 feet 4¼ inches. After an initial period of training he embarked for Le Havre in France where he saw action between February 1915 and January 1917. The Battalion spent the spring months in the Ypres Salient before moving back via Armentiers to Morcourt on the River Somme. The months up to the end of July 1916 were spent in combat on the Somme around the village of Le Hemel, a few miles east of Amiens.

By August 1st, the Battalion was moved about 60 miles to the north to relieve the 14th Hampshire Battalion in the defence and maintenance of the line at Festubert. This village close to Bethune had been the site of a fierce battle the previous May. It had resulted in 16000 casualties for the gain of about one kilometre of land. The area remained in contention and the ground had been heavily churned and waterlogged by the 100,000 shell artillery barrage. Life, though, was generally quiet with occasional shelling and sniper fire. Albert was involved in scouting patrols, particularly at night. He was wounded in action, sustaining what appears to have been a relatively minor gunshot wound to the right leg on August 8th. In the second half of the month the Battalion moved to a training camp at Monchy-Breton, about 20 miles to the south west. At the end of the month they returned to the main battle line of the Somme at Mailly-Maillet near the River Ancre. Artillery shelling continued most days through the month. Albert sustained a second gunshot wound, this time to his head, on September 29th 1916. During that year Albert was promoted three times: to lance corporal on August 7th; corporal on September 7th and then lance sergeant in October 21st.

In March 1917 he was posted for training as an officer cadet and received his commission on June 27th 1917. He became lieutenant 185057 and was transferred to the 8th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment. At the beginning of November 1918, in common with a great many other serving soldiers, Albert picked up a sexually transmitted disease, gonorrhoea, presumably when on leave. He was treated initially at the 50th Field Ambulance and then transferred to the 51st General Hospital at Étaples, in the Pas-de-Calais department of Northern France where he spent ten weeks. Étaples was the largest specialist hospital for the treatment of venereal diseases in France [See Further Reading i] . At the same time, the end of the war was looming as Germany was facing collapse and civil unrest. The Kaiser resigned and fled to Holland. The two sides met in the Forest of Compiegne in France on November 8th and it was agreed that hostilities should cease on November 11th 1918 at 11am. It was also determined that there should be an Army of Occupation sited in Germany along the River Rhine to enforce the peace with the British based in Cologne, the Americans in Coblenz and the French at Mainz. It is said that in the days after the Armistice 250,000 Alied forces marched eastwards to the Rhineland [See Further Reading ii]. Winston Churchill gave a long speech to Parliament about the number of land forces which were involved in the occupation of Germany in January 1919 (14).

Albert was transferred to one of the Officer Cadet Battalions and was attached to the Rhine Boat Service. Initially this consisted of a flotilla of 12 small boats armed with 3-pounder guns. They were used to patrol the river and to protect the bridges. He was stationed at the Occupation Force's General Headquarters in the Excelsior Hotel, in the Domplatz in Cologne, immediately opposite the Cathedral. In early August he was admitted to the Cologne 36th Casualty Clearing Station "dangerously ill with appendicitis". He died on August 8th 1919 - the full cause of death was listed as "Acute appendicitis; Old G.S.W. Head; Acute cerebral abscess" (this could signify that he had suffererd a ruptured appendix which caused peritonitis and septicaemia [- Ed]). He was buried at the Südfriedhof (South) Cemetery (section IV row C2) in the city on August 12th 1919. The grave position was initially "marked with a durable wooden cross with an inscription". This was ultimately replaced by a formal headstone by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Upon hearing of his brother's death, Charles William wrote to the War Office asking whether there were any hopes of his body being brought from his grave and sent to England for burial. Charles also stated that it was against both his brother's wish and the wishes of the family to be buried in German soil.

In common with all first World War soldiers, Albert made out a will on August 16th 1916 leaving all his belongings to his father. In March 1920, a War Service gratuity of £141 15s 6d was paid into his estate through Bawker Weldon Solicitors of Whittlesey. Probate of this will was granted at Peterborough on May 18th 1920. Albert was also commemorated on the War Memorial in the Market Place in Whittlesey.

AGA grave

Albert's grave and Cologne Cemetery map (16)

Continued in column 2...

Page added: March 31st 2020

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Ernest Anker (1898 - 1986)


Ernest Anker at 16 (1914)

Ernest Anker was born on July 4th 1898. He moved with the family from Eastgate in Whittlesey to Gossett Farm in the company of his two older and one younger brother. He was still at school at the time of the 1911 census. He had just celebrated his twentieth birthday when he married Selina Bedford on July 13th 1918.


An early view of Coates

Selina was born on November 15th 1896, the daughter of agricultural labourer James William Bedford of Coates and his wife Emma Rebecca Dolby. She had an older sister Eliza (born 1892) and an older brother William Dolby (born 1896). As a fifteen year old she had entered domestic service with the family of Laxton Luke Bedford, sometime farmer and innkeeper. No relationship between the two, or between the Bedford families into which Walter David Eason married, has so far been traced. Of note though, Lexton Bedford's family were near neighbours of the family of Isaac German (which included the younger (1847 - 1918) of the two Martha German girls described in the section "The Strange Case of Joseph German" in [Article B.]). During the first World War William Dolby Bedford enlisted with the 11th Battalion, the Suffolk Regiment. He was deployed near Bailleul, a small town on the French side of the border with Belgium. There was fierce fighting in the region in April 1918 and sometime between the 9th and 19th of that month he went missing in action. His body was never found. He is commemorated on Panel 3 of the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing (17) which stands 11 miles to the east just inside the Belgian border.

Ernest and Selina had four children in the first part of the 1920s; three daughters: Gladys (born 1920), Grace (1921), Joyce Mary (1926) and a son: Ernest Norton (1923). Ernest Anker spent his working life on the land. By the start of the second World War the family were settled in a cottage at Gravel House Farm which stood alongside the main March Road to the east about a mile outside of Coates. Selina died in late 1976. Ernest moved into a property on South Green in Coates. He died there on November 5th 1986. He was 86 years old. His son Ernest Norton Anker reported his death which was certified as caused by bronchopneumonia and congestive cardiac failure.

My Great uncle Ernie - A personal remembrance

March Rd

The Road to Gravel House

I did not meet and get to know Ernest Anker until I was 11 or 12 years old. His brother, Percival Anker, emigrated to Canada to be a farmer, joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force and was killed in France in the first World War. His daughter, my mother, was just 2 years old at that time and her mother also died when she was young. She was sent to England to be cared for by the Clark side of her family in 1932 and it wasn't until 1953 that the Ankers discovered her living in Hunstanton, married with two sons. Ernie was elated to know he had a niece with a family. He invited my brother and me to stay with him for a summer holiday. I recall taking a bus from King's Lynn to Peterborough via Whittlesey and being dropped off at the end of the Wisbech Road right next to Gravel House where uncle and aunt Selina lived. Staying with uncle was the first holiday we ever had.


Ernest Anker

Every day was early to bed, early to rise. Not much of a holiday you might think but we soon got used to it and loved it. We would walk about half a mile to where he kept chickens, pigs and the farm equipment. We would feed the chickens and pigs then jump on the tractor to go off to one of the fields where they grew corn or wheat. Uncle would let us drive the tractor as there was hardly ever any traffic and it would be the highlight of our day. I remember cutting then stacking the sheaves into stooks. The other field I remember being down Eldernell Lane near where Norton Anker and Elsie lived where they grew potatoes. The plough would uproot the potatoes to the surface then we hand picked and threw them into the trailer.


A BSA rifle on target in Whittlesey

Uncle Ernie was a crack shot with a BSA air rifle he'd obviously owned for many years. He could set up a red match on the garden gate and hit it from several yards away causing it to explode. We tried the same but could not succeed. Photographs of my grandfather Percival Anker showed that he had the marksman insignia on his sleeve. During my nine year service career I was also awarded the same insignia. Ernie's son Norton was also a crack shot with a 22 rifle. I guess it runs in the family. We used to take the air rifle into the field when we walked over to Nortons house. The field was surrounded by an electric fence. Uncle showed us how to put a long stick between the ground and the wire to lessen or prevent us getting a shock. Uncle also showed us how to make catapults from a Y branch cut from a tree. He took us to a local farm store to buy the rubber and aunt Selina gave us an old purse for the pouch. The whole area was covered in the small pea size gravel so we had an abundance of ammunition. Maybe that's why they called it Gravel House.

Ernest and Selina

Ernest and Selina

Sometimes in the evening we would play Checkers. Uncle was a master at this and I can't help but think he spent many hours in the local pub playing. He would win every single game. He would then say, "OK let's play to lose". We thought this would be easy as we always lost. No, playing by the rules he would make us take his Checker pieces so he would lose every time.

Uncle's dog was a border collie mutt named Jigger. Whenever Jigger was not with us he was tethered to his kennel by the side of the house. Jigger was fiercely protective as anyone who came close would instantly realize. He would fly out of his kennel on the tether which was long enough to reach to about the center of the pathway. Upon returning to the house we would walk as close to the hedge on the far side of the path so as not to get nipped. When Jigger was off the tether he was as friendly as any dog could be. He would walk with us in the morning to feed the chickens and pigs. If any chickens had managed to get out of the pen, uncle would say, "get um Jigger", and he'd round them all back up into the pen.

After our holiday was over we would stop by and visit once in a while. In 1976 aunt Selina passed away and shortly after uncle moved to a small apartment in Whittlesey. My mother, aunt Gwen and I visited with him there. In 1986 uncle passed away. My great uncle Ernie was quite a character. These are some of the memories I have and so glad to have had them. I can't help but feel that had my grandfather lived through the war he would have been of a similar nature to my great uncle Ernie. [-S.C.]

Oliver David Anker (1903 - 1973)

The last of David and Harriet Anker's children was born on February 26th 1903 and grew up on the farm. He was obviously too young to serve in the Armed Forces when the first World War broke out, but given the examples set by his brothers it seems most likely that he intended to follow them somehow as soon as he could. Oliver ultimately had a long and varied career in the Royal Navy. His records show that he commenced this service as a "Boy 2nd Class" on February 14th 1919 aboard the training ship HMS Impregnable which was based at Devonport. After six months he was reclassified as "Boy 1st Class". He then had tours of duty over the next two years aboard the battleships HMS Revenge, HMS Royal Sovereign, HMS Orion and HMS Iron Duke where he progressed through to the rank of Ordinary Seaman. On February 26th 1921 he signed up for a regular engagement of 12 years. He was described 5 feet 6 inches tall with blue eyes, light brown hair and a fair complexion.

His designation had risen to Able Seaman by April 1922. For the next five years he alternated between the shore based establishments HMS Excellent on Whale Island, Portsmouth and HMS Victory I, the main fleet barracks in Portsmouth. During this time he had attachments to gain experience as crew in "Insect-Class" gunboats (HMS Bee and Mantis (18)). From there he was seconded to HMS Benbow, a dreadnaught battleship launched in 1913 which had taken part in the Battle of Jutland, and then on May 7th 1929 to the battleship HMS Emperor of India.

In May 1930, he returned to the shore based establishments HMS Victory and HMS Excellent from where he applied for a further period of engagement. His subsequent postings were to last for the next 11 years. These postings were interspersed with sea based secondments which saw a further progressive rise through the ranks. He spent thirty months between November 1931 and July 1934 aboard the battleship HMS Revenge during which time he became Acting and then Leading Seaman. He passed the proficiency assessment for Petty Officers on June 23rd 1933. Ten months of 1935 were spent on board HMS Nelson when he was promoted to Petty Officer. He was then sent to HMS Fort St Angelo, a fort built in the harbour of Burgi, Malta, in 1937 for five months. He was promoted to Chief Petty Officer during his posting to the light cruiser HMS Manchester between August 1938 and December 1940.


British Empire Medal

He returned to shore where he was promoted again to Temporary Commissioned Gunner and Temporary Acting Senior Gunner in 1941. He served aboard the cruiser HMS Lauderdale until February 1943 when he was transferred to the training establishment HMS Collingwood at Fareham. For the last six months up to April 1946, he worked aboard HMS Cyclops, a submarine repair and depot ship. He was awarded, amongst others, the Long Service and Good Conduct Medals in 1936 and the British Empire Medal (Military Division) in July 1941 (19, 20). He was paid his War Gratuity by "D.N.A. 4" (the Director of Navy Accounts - Royal Australian Navy under Admiralty Orders) at the end of the war. He remained on the Royal Navy list of retired officers as Temporary Acting Commissioned Gunner which was published in June 1949 (21).


Doris Thrussell (middle) with sister Tiny (right)

On the domestic front Oliver was married twice. His first wife was Doris Ethel Thrussell who was born on July 31st 1909 in Croydon. Her parents were William and Edith Annie Thrussell, both of whom had experienced tragedies of their own. William, born in 1870, had married Emma Jane Wilkinson in 1892, with whom he had three sons. In 1899 they made their home in Ram Square, Wandsworth. At the outset of 1900, Emma Jane found she was expecting for the fourth time. However this pregnancy was to come to a devastating end. She had developed placenta praevia (when the placenta had formed low in the uterus blocking the birth canal). When she went into labour on September 6th 1900, a torrential haemmorhage ensued from which both she and the unborn child died. William was with her when she died. She was 32 years old. [ - It is of note that, even by 1915, the use of caesarean section in the management of placenta praevia in the most advanced surgical practices still was considered both novel and controversial. (22) - Ed]

William's second wife was born Edith Annie Cook in Sutton, Surrey. She had married William Joseph Ford, a railway worker, in Wandsworth in the spring of 1899. They had one son, Thomas William, who was born in the opening months of 1900. William Joseph then died, also in Wandsworth, on August 11th 1900. The cause of death was registered as aortic disease (probably of the aortic valve or aortic stenosis) which caused syncope (or a sudden collapse). He was 27 years of age. William Thrussell and Edith Annie were married at the end of the same year. Over the course of the next decade they had four daughters, Doris Ethel being the youngest. The others were Agnes Alice (born 1904), Daisy Annie (1906) and Tiny Mabel (1908). William had been both a greengrocer and coal merchant. In 1911 the family were living in Parchmore Road, Thornton Heath near Croydon: all except for 5 year old Daisy Annie. She had been institutionalised at The Lord Mayor Treloar Cripples Home, Chawton Park Road, Alton, Hampshire

Oliver and Doris were married in the spring of 1927 in Portsmouth. It is known that their pet names for each other were Olly and Dolly. They had two daughters: Joan born in 1928 and Pamela born in 1932. At the outbreak of the second World War, Doris was living with her girls in a house at 207 London Road Cowplain: a small village on the outskirts of Waterlooville, Hampshire and about ten miles north of Portsmouth. Oliver and Doris parted during the early years of the war. Doris married again to Austin Harvey in Croydon in 1956. Electoral Registers show that she had been living as Doris Harvey at least prior to 1953.


R.M.S. Canton (23)


R.M.S. Carthage (24)

Red Lion

The Red Lion, Petersfield (25)

Oliver embarked on the P&O vessel RMS Canton at Southampton on October 20th 1950 bound for Hong Kong. His home address in England was given as Rogate Road, Petersfield. He was on his own in tourist class and was described as a gunner instructor and a member of the Royal Navy Reserves. Little is known of his actual activities whilst he was abroad. He returned to England on RMS Carthage on August 30th 1955, this time with his new wife Mary and her daughter Rosy. Mary Lai, born in Hong Kong on August 18th 1925, had been married before. The couple gave their return address as The Red Lion on College Street in Petersfield. (These two Petersfield addresses are about 3.5 miles apart). Their daughter Patricia was born on August 19th 1956.

The Electoral Register which was published at the end of the 1959, shows Oliver and Mary living at No. 1 Frilsham House Gardens (26). Frilsham is a village on the Berkshire Downs about 4 miles north east of Newbury. Oliver died on June 8th 1973.

David Anker marries Rose

After Harriet's death in 1917 and the deaths of three of their children, David Anker remained alone with his grief for over ten years. Sometime during the next decade he formed an association with Rose Eason, the sister of his dead daughter's husband, who was some thirty years his junior. They were married in the town in 1929. Rose bore him a son they named Ronald on July 28th the same year. The marriage lasted barely four years. David died on January 7th 1933 aged 67 years. He was buried four days later.

Rose continued to live with her son in a house at 45 West End, Whittlesey. At the start of the Second World War they had taken in a lodger, 56 year old farmer Thomas Pearson. Thomas was a widower, his wife, Catherine, having died in the town in 1933. Thomas had married Catherine Clark Brewster who was born in the hamlet of Thorpe by Water, Rutland in 1909. By a curious coincidence, she was the second cousin of Nellie Swann who had strong links with the Cook family from Buckinghamshire and Leicester as told in "Auntie Nellie's story - Nellie Youle Swann (1894 - 1970)" [Article F.]. Even stranger, Nellie Swann lived less than a mile away from Kenneth Anker in the Sherwood District of Nottingham during the second World War. It is not known from where Catherine Brewster was given her second name, but two of her brothers were also called Clark. Is it possible this was from the same family source as Dorothy, Percival Anker's wife?

Further Reading

Christmas menu

(i) World War I Centenary


(ii) Picture Postcards from the Great War

i. The article The British Army's fight against Venereal Disease in the 'Heroic Age of Prostitution' in World War I Centenary Continuations and Beginnings from an Open Educational Resource University of Oxford, points out that the British popular memory of the First World War has traditionally made little room for sex. Popular mythologies dwell upon the futile sacrifices made by innocent youth. Many young men did meet their deaths as virgins, but most were far from naïve.

There were 416,891 hospital admissions during the war years among British and Dominion troops from venereal disease, roughly 5% of Britain's armies. In 1918, there were 60,099 hospital admissions for venereal disease in France and Flanders alone. By contrast, only 74,711 cases of 'Trench Foot' were treated by hospitals in France and Flanders during the whole of the war - and this total also includes those suffering from Frost Bite. Although Trench Foot has come to symbolise the squalor of the conflict in the popular imagination, a man was more than five times as likely to end up in hospital suffering from Syphilis or Gonorrhoea.

ii. Tony Allen has created a fascinating account of events and life during the first World War illuminated with photographs and contemporary postcards. In the chapter The Armistice 1918 (15) he points out, though, that there is one topic which attracts little interest. The Great War ended in November 1918 and the German Rhineland was occupied by the victorious Allies, with the British in Cologne and the surrounding area. The Armistice, the German retreat from France and Flanders, and the British involvement on German territory have all been recorded on picture postcards and depict a graphic postscript to the 1914-18 war. This was exactly the situation in which our Lieutenant Albert George Anker found himself.

The authors would like to express their gratitude to Tony for granting permission to use photographs (particularly of the Hotel Excelsior, Cologne and "The Rhine Flotilla") and to refer to the text of Picture Postcards from the Great War to illustrate this, the final aspect of Albert George Anker's short career and life.


The authors would also like to express their thanks for the help, comments and suggestions from the following in the construction of this article: BillyH, Coldstreamer, Kenf48, MaxD and Terry-Reeves at The Great War Forum; Contributors to the Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire Forums (including Heywood5, Jamjar, KGArrad and Magslote) at RootsChat.Com.


I am the daughter from Oliver David Anker's second marriage. Prior to joining this research project, I knew that my father had had a long career in the Royal Navy but knew virtually nothing else about the Anker family. I was shocked and saddened by the tragedies that they have faced - even more so for the fate that awaited my Aunt Gertrude. This has been particularly poignant for me as I too suffered from Grave's Disease but with modern medicine I have been cured. [-PC]
It was my mother's wish that her descendants knew the Anker side of her family. She did not get to know her father and knew very little of her uncles. Her wishes have been fulfilled in the production of these articles. An earlier article described her father, Percival Joseph Anker MM, who was killed in action during WWl. In loving memory of my mother Barbara Anker. [-SC].
Family is a funny concept. I have nothing to do with the Ankers but Stuart is my (maternal side) fourth cousin and Daniel is Stuart's third cousin. I seem to meet strange relationships everywhere I look. As I grew up we lived almost opposite two elderly ladies, the granddaughters of the slayer of my grandfather's six year old half brother - an event which had happened three quarters of a century before and 30 miles away in the next county [Article G.]. [-ADC].
Why Nottingham? My great grandfather George was David Anker's older brother [Article C.]. He probably started the trend of "emigrating" to this city and was married there when David was still a boy. George's first home was in Brook Street, just 3½ miles east of Manton Crescent where Charles William was to settle half a century later. After his death, George's widow moved the family to Ashwell Street, five miles from Kenneth Roland's future home in Glamis Road.[-DH].

Pat Cleverley


Stuart Cook


Alan Craxford


Daniel Hewitt


Links to the articles mentioned in the text are in italic capitals below:

Article A: All about family life and marriage in the Seventeenth Century The origins of the Anker family.
Article B: The family of Abraham Anker and Mary Wilikns Whittlesey Ancestors - The Anker family (Part 1).
Article C: George, the engine driverWhittlesey Ancestors - The Anker family (Part 2).
Article D: The West End of town Growing up on Fosse Road North, Leicester
Article E: A Cambridgeshire lad in the Canadian Expeditionary Force Percival Joseph Anker, MM (1892 - 1918).
Article F: Clark link to Brewster? Auntie Nellie's story - Nellie Youle Swann (1894 - 1970).
Article G: The paperboy: what brought an author into the study of family history Paperboy unknowingly delivers newspapers to the granddaughters of his great uncle's murderer


1.Whittlesey, Cambridgesire. From: Detailed Old Ordnance Survey 6 inch to 1 mile Old Map (1888-1913) ARCHI MAPS: Great Britain
2. David Anker, Bassenhally field; Whittlesea Rural Parish - Commercial in Kelly's Directory of Cambridgeshire 1916 Page 231. Historical Directories of England & Wales; University of Leicester Special Collections Online
3. Headstone of David and Harriet Anker, Whittlesey Cemetery. Photograph of Memorial 38883500 added by Patsy Tobin. Find A Grave
4. Turner, John MB., Senior Assistant Medical Officer to the Essex County Asylum: Acute Delirious Mania (in) The British Medical Journal 804- September 1900
5. The Machine Gun Corps in the First World War. The Long, Long Trail.
6. About Class z: Demobilisation and Discharge The Long, Long Trail
7. Alleged Unfit Rabbits - Market Stall Holder at Guildhall: Nottingham Journal Page 4 December 21st 1937. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
8. Constance Hilda Anker: War Office, Typist: The London Gazette Issue 34951 Page 5658 September 24th 1940
9. Kenneth Roland Anker: Promoted: The London Gazette Issue 35880 Page 535 January 26th 1943
10. "Tories will stand in by-elections": Liverpool Echo Page 9 June 2nd 1967 The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
11. White, Clifford M.D., Obstetric Registrar, University College Hospital: Exophthalmic Goitre and Pregnancy, Labour and the Puerperium - A Critical Review in Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology pages 126 - 132 September 1st 1911
12. What is Eclampsia? in Parenthood - Pregnancy: Healthline
13. Lieutenant Albert George ANKER: The Lincolnshire Regiment Reference WO 339/96865 The National Archives
14. Statement by Winston Churchill, Secretary of State for War to Parliament The Number of Land Forces on March 3rd 1919 in Hansard
15. The Armistice and the British Army of Occupation in Germany The Armistice 1918 from the website Picture Postcards From The Great War by Tony Allen. Reproduced with permission.
16. Lieutenant Anker, A.G. Casualty 900735 at The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
17. Description, map and records for The Ploegsteert Memorial at The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
18. Bee and Mantis, examples of Insect-class gunboat, Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia
19. Orders and Decorations: British Empire Medal (Military and Civil) (BEM) Veterans Affairs, Canada
20. Acting Gunner (then Chief Petty Officer) Oliver David Anker: British Empire Medal (Military Division): The London Gazette Issue 35204 Page 3742 July 1st 1941
21. Temporary Acting Commissioned Gunner in The Navy List of Retired Officers (together with the Emergency List), 1888-1970 Pages 3 & 290 July 1949
22. Gellhorn, George: "Three cases of extraperitoneal cesarean section": A paper presented at the St Louis Medical Society October 1914. in JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) LXIV(3) 196-198: 1915
23. P&O's R.M.S. Canton (3) ssMaritime Remembering the Classic Liners of Yesteryear
24. R.M.S. Carthage in The Old Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company c1835 - 1972
25. "The Red Lion Inn, Petersfield"; from a Francis Frith e-card
26. Oliver David Anker, 1 Frilsham House Gardens in County of Berkshire Registers of Electors October 10th 1959

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